my research


Vowel Harmony

Much of my work uses vowel harmony to address key issues in phonological theory.  I have four ongoing projects focusing on vowel harmony.


Gradience in phonology- using fieldwork data from four Central Asian Turkic languages, I'm addressing whether phonology may operate over gradient variables and the implications of gradience for phonological theory.


Computational complexity and the sub-regular hierarchy (with James Essegbey at the University of Florida, as well as with Eric Bakovic, Anna Mai, and Eric Meinhardt at UCSD)  we're studying the complexity of vowel harmony, with emphasis on ATR harmony in Tutrugbu, a Ghana-Togo Mountain Language.


Directionality and prominence (with James Essegbey at the University of Florida)- we're analyzing progressive rounding harmony in Tutrugbu, contextualizing this rarely attested type of prefix-initiated harmony with other similar patterns to discuss the roles of pure directionality and prominence in harmony.


Non-iterativity (with Darya Kavitskaya at UC Berkeley)- we're analyzing rounding harmony in two dialects of Crimean Tatar.  We show that harmony in the Central dialect is non-iterative, in contrast to some recent literature arguing that non-iterative harmony is excluded from the architecture of Language.

Turkic Languages

Almost anything Turkic can get me excited. Here are a few of the projects I've been working on.

Stress and intonational prominence in Kazakh- whether Kazakh has stress or not has been a contentious issue among Kazakh linguists, and this project offers the first experimental data on the topic.  Further, this project addresses the stress in the context or larger prosodic prominences in the language, providing a basic description of declarative intonational structure.


Exceptionality in Kazakh- I have argued that the comitative and infinitive suffixes in Kazakh are not transparent to harmony, in contrast to one recent claim.  This project involves a description of these morphemes in colloquial and literary Kazakh with data from fieldwork on colloquial Kazakh along with two orthographic copora and one audio corpus of literary Kazakh.


Transparency in Turkic- This project involves describing the realization high front vowels in Kazakh and Kyrgyz, as well as raised vowels in Uyghur.


Front round vowels in Crimean Tatar (with Darya Kavitskaya at UC Berkeley)- we're analyzing the surface realization on phonologically [-back, +round] vowels.  Their surface acoustics vary significantly based on consonantal context, and we are examining the role of consonants in backness harmony in this language.

downloadable papers

Vowel dispersion and Kazakh labial harmony. to appear in Phonology 35. [pdf]


Non-iterative vowel harmony in Crimean Tatar (with Darya Kavitskaya). In Proceedings of WCCFL 35. [pdf]


Unbounded harmony is not always myopic: Evidence from Tutrugbu (with James Essegbey). In Proceedings of WCCFL 35. [pdf]


Mayak and the typology of labial harmony.  In Supplemental Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Meeting on Phonology, Los Angeles, CA. October 23-25. [pdf]


Statistical modelling of phonetic and phonologised perturbation effects in tonal and non-tonal languages (with Si Chen, Zhang Caicai, and Ratree Wayland) Speech Communication 88: 17-38. [pdf]


Modeling the gradient evolution and decay of harmony systems. In Supplemental Proceedings of The 2015 Annual Meeting on Phonology, Vancouver, BC. October 9-11. [pdf]


Labial harmonic shift in Kazakh: Mapping the pathways and motivations for change.  In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society,  pp. 329-352. [pdf]


Labial harmony in Kazakh: Descriptive and theoretical issues. Unpublished MA thesis. University of Florida. [pdf]


Whose graduates are getting jobs in linguistics? [pdf]



This was something that I did one night while deciding on which PhD program to enter.     Basically, I took a sample of over 300 university professors' CVs to see where they went to school and when they graduated to get some  data on job placement trends.